Nissan chief planning officer and the man in charge of the company's electric vehicle operations, Andy Palmer, told Automotive News any new battery would need to provide a range of at least 300km to be competitive with upcoming hydrogen fuel cell cars, though declined to give an iron-clad range target for the new battery type. The current Leaf can manage a maximum of 170km between charges.
Nissan is also working on upgrades to the battery pack (pictured below) used in the current-generation Leaf. Changes that improve battery life in hot climates are said to be coming "soon".
Nissan executive design director Mamoru Aoki suggested a fresh design philosophy was on the cards for the second-generation Leaf, which is set for release later this decade.
Aoki says the current Leaf is "aiming too much at an EV-like appearance", before praising the look of the electric Tesla Model S sedan as being "very sporty, sleek, but very authentic" and not at all like an EV.
Nissan chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura added that the new Leaf would be "distinctive, yet more mainstream", and would feature a floating roof look thanks to blacked-out pillars, as well as a version of Nissan's 'V Motion' front-end design. Like the current car, the next-generation Leaf will do without an upper grille.
Although timing for the new Leaf has yet to be formally announced, Palmer intimated that the next-generation Leaf would fall outside the scope of the company's Nissan Power 88 plan, which concludes at the end of the 2016 Japanese financial year (March 31, 2017) and would be preceded by an all-electric Infiniti model.
The Infiniti EV was initially slated for launch this year, but has been held back to take advantage of the new battery technology that Nissan is working on. Unlike the Leaf, the Infiniti EV will feature a sedan body and feature wireless inductive charging technology.